First some news.
For those of you wondering, the Pacers will know thier draft position on May 19 as that is the day the draft lottery will be conducted per pacers.com
Now let the posting begin.
This post was looking a lot differant at about the 9 min. left to go mark in the 4th quarter. However thanks to some inspired play on both ends of the floor the Pacers walked away with a win and the fans left with a good taste in their mouths with a positive eye towards the future.
I'm not going to rehash the game other than to say that the 4th quarter was inspiring to watch & honestly harkened me back to the days of Reggie hitting big shots down towards the end of games to bring us back. However I am pretty sure I don't remember Reggie ever block one let alone three shots in a quarter to stop a team cold. Danny has just become an unreal player and it is a pure joy to watch him grow.
Nobody was more happy though than Danny when Rush was also hitting shot after shot. Late in the game the Buck defense collapsed on Danny as he drove, he kicked the ball over to Brandon and swish goes a three (or boom goes the dynamite if you prefer). Danny pointed at Rush and yelled "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah at him running down the court on defense. He was grinning from ear to ear.
Obviously Rush and Granger were on another level of playing at that point in time but don't underestimate McRoberts contributions there in the end either. 3 blocks, 2 more that he altered and 2 steals all in crunch time in the 4th. Hmmm....for some reason pacers.com & the star do not agree on the stats on this. The star has both Danny & Josh with 3 blocks while the pacers have Danny with 2 and Josh with one. I think I'm going with the star on this one as I am certain Josh blocked several here.
The crowd was really into the come back and the Pacers did feed off of that as well.
Overall a great win at home and other than the fact that it was the last game of the year do to no playoffs, it was a good way to end the season.
Now we move on and look ahead. We might look back as well, we'll see.
I am going to write this so as not to be Mary Sunshine here but frankly I am not to unhappy with the past season. Sure I thought they might have a few more wins but overall with all of the legitimate excuses the team can make I think we ended up where most of us thought we would.
Let me just start with the big pink elephant in the room.
Coach Jim O'Brien.
What I'm going to say is going to come across as wimpy and undecided. There is a reason for that, I am.
I'm not going to lie, he does things that makes me want to hang the first person I see to the first tree I can find. However he is far more flexible than people give him credit for. Our up tempo offense took far fewer quick threes than we did the year before. He even set up some half court offense for Roy.
I am certain he will be back next year, the only thing that might prevent that is himself if he resigns which I do not see happening.
From me he is going to get this season as a pass because frankly the guy just did not have the talent to work with and even the talent he had to work with sometimes wasn't available from game to game.
I mean let's be honest here there were several times during the season when we would get down and I would think to myself "My God why doesn't he put someone else in" and then I would look over at the bench and try and figure out who that person would be. Needless to say there were never any real obvious answers and if I had that thought then you know his was even worse as he knows how these players play in his system.
But I am not giving him a full break. While I think he did show that he can coach the talent he has there were still plenty of things that he did that I just think were dead wrong.
His absolute love of certain players (no names mentioned) (anybody want to guess who I'm talking about ) to me put the team back several paces during the dog days of the season. Thus often times forcing several of our players to play out of place.
When he gets in trouble or in a tight spot he runs home to Momma and goes with his small offensive oriented lineup. Now he stopped doing that at the end of the season but I will never know if that was because he learned from past mistakes or injuries prohibited him from using that lineup.
There were other things, but I'm going to stop because I DO NOT WANT THIS TO TURN INTO A BASH JIM O'BRIEN THREAD!!!!
As I said all season long, the truth about him is in the middle. He is not the worst coach in the world but he is not a perfect coach either.
Danny Granger: Exceeded all of my expectations of him. I always thought he would be good but I never thought he would be this good. I sat through almost every single game Reggie Milller played and I even sat through every single game played by Jermaine O'Neal.
To me Danny Granger is the greatest Pacer I have ever seen play. I know that is blasphemy to say that when compared to Reggie, but I can't help it. Now until Danny does this consistantly in the playoffs he will never be near Reggie, but in the regular season, to me anyway hands down Danny is the best.
I am leaving out the old Pacer greats because I never saw them live.
I want Danny to work on his rebounding and staying more focused on defense next year but other than that I want nothing else to change.
Here is my next bold prediction for next season.
Our next season, as is right now barring whatever we do in the draft or trades, depends totally on Brandon Rush.
If Brandon plays all of next season like he did the last 10 of this one I will say that he will be the differance in 7 to 10 more wins all by himself. I'm not kidding if we can have a wing combo of Rush and Granger like we have had the last few games then there are going to be several teams that will not be able to handle them.
Now if Brandon reverts to what he was in the first half or if we re-sign a certain player who then cuts into his min. then not only will I be very dissapointed I won't hold out much hope for improvement for the club.
I want Brandon in the gym every day shooting the ball this summer. I want him working on post up moves, which I happen to think if he could develop a few would add tons to his game and I want him working on taking it to the basket.
His defense is already solid, in fact I will say he is the best consistant perimater defender we have.
He might work on his passing to a little but other than that....
Roy Hibbert. This is a tough one. What I would like to see Roy do is gain some muscle strength, however I am very leary of ever putting weight on big guys like that because of their knees and ankles.
I want Roy to get a big man coach this summer, screw the Pacers if they won't get him one I hope he hires one himself. Roy needs to learn balance and lateral movement. On offense O'Brien called this one to a "t" when he said that Roy has gotten into a bad habbit of shooting off of one leg and becoming unbalanced. Roy needs to work on that.
In fact Roy needs to work on everything. That sounds like a slam and a bit harsh but it's not intended to be. I just want Roy to improve his overall game and cut way down on the fouls.
Look we all have to realize, just like we did with Smits, that Roy is never going to be the bruising rebounder that Howard is. But I think he can be an offensive force in some games and be a good defender in the long run.
I'm very happy with his play and again for a 17th pick who is a center I think we got our moneys worth.
Troy Murphy: At this stage in his career he is who he is so there really needs to be no great additions to his game. Yes, yes we all want better defense. Well I would like Bill Gates to give me his fortune but its not going to happen. As long as he plays within the system O'Brien has designed for him then he will get along. He might want to go back and work more with weights like he did last season just to help stand the pounding but he can't afford to put on to much bulk.
Jeff Foster: Like Troy he is what he is. I want him to take McRoberts under his wing and help pass along some of the crafty veteran moves that he has learned over the years. I don't want him helping Roy, nothing against Jeff but Roy is not going to be that type of player and I don't want him being that way either.
And now for no reason, it's time for the dancing fruit:
Jeff in the role he finished the season with the club is perfect. Veteran big man who can come in and fill in at either position and does a lot of good things to help the club. Now that the big baby is gone from the club I like Jeff so much more.
Anyway Jeff just needs to rest, rehab and figure out some way of helping out his back.
T.J. Ford: LEARN TO NOT JUMP IN THE AIR WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO. Ford is a decent shooter so he doesn't need to work on that, but dribbling and passing (something point guards should already do) needs some work. Don't get me wrong he is not a horrid p.g. and yes I prefer him to # 11. I think his defense is decent but I would like to see him work on keeping his man in front of him more and trying to direct where the ball goes on defense and not just try and steal the ball all of the time.
Mike Dunleavy: Rehab. After rehab. get in shape. After getting in shape work on lateral movement on defense.
Look I don't want to get into a great debate about this because it is clear now that Mike was never healthy this year and he has done what he had to do to get better. I wish him nothing but the best.
But frankly when he returns I really truely hope that Brandon has the position locked and Mike can accept being the 6th man. If not then I'm sorry for the Dunleavy fans but I think it would be best to move him. IMO, he & Granger do not mesh on the floor and Mike skill set allows Jim O'Brien to be a lousy coach. What I mean by that is that he makes Mike the small forward and shifts Danny to the 4 and usually Murphy to the 5. This is just a God awful lineup.
Look I'm not trying to be offensive to him or his fans. I think he is a very good player and I could see him being a huge asset for us off of the bench. But as long as another player is here, who I won't name but sounds like Ferret Mack, and O'Brien feels the need to play him 40 min. a game then every player will play out of position and Mike will be forced to play alongside other small players. Not a good thing.
But I don't want to beat that into the ground.
I think that is all of the Pacers who are for sure commited to being back next year. I think we will probably see Jack, McRoberts and probably Deiner back as well but beyond that????
Jarret Jack: Well if he returns and our coaching staff hasn't changed I guess Jack needs to work on passing a little better. Actually he, like T.J., needs to LEARN TO NOT JUMP IN THE AIR WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO. I have never seen point guards in my life do this, let alone two on the same team. Both of them will drive in the lane and jump and then throw some dumb blind wild pass because they got stuck.
Look I need to clear this up first and formost. I am not a Jarret Jack hater. In fact I wanted him on the club last season. But I just feel that Jim O'Brien overused him at the detriment of other players. Your going to laugh at this but hear me out. I think there were many times that McRoberts got screwed because Jack was playing so many min. What??? How can a point guard screw a power forward out of min. Simple, he played many many times at the two spot this year and instead of just playing Ford or Jack he would often play them together and then whatever other wing player would then have to play the three thush shifting Danny to the 4 and so forth.
Jack is a good solid player and I prefer him to Ford in all honesty. Let's just hope his contract is reasonable.
Travis Deiner: He is what he is. However what he is does not deserve constant DNP-CD after DNP-CD. I would like to see him work on his defense and he needs to regain his shot. Other than that I'm not sure what else to tell him. He is already a good passer and controls the ball better than our other two p.g.'s
Josh McRoberts. This one is really really tough. The one thing that he needs to do is the one thing that would probably ruin what makes him the player he is right now. If he is going to play the 4 spot he has to get stronger, there is no other way to put it. However that will mean not being as quick and not being able to jump as high. Kind of a catch 22. I'm not sure which way he should go. I would stil think he should put on some lean muscle and that should not take away from his jumping to much.
He needs to work on his shot and learn the plays a little more.
Seth and I were talking after the game and I agree with him on this. Online here there is usually only a 1 or 10 when it comes to people talking about Josh. There really needs to be a 4 5 & 6. In other words he is not a savior but he is not a scrub either. He can and should be getting a few consistant min. if not every game then in most of them. I think he could benefit from Foster.
What do I want to see in the off-season? Well frankly just add more talent to the roster. We are really shallow in the front court and I would hope the Pacers can pick up some decent players to help the club. I certainly would like to see a star player but that isn't going to happen so I will be happy with a solid draft, a few good cheap free agents and a healthy motivated Brandon Rush.
Look we can put lipstick on a pig and at the end of the day it's still a pig. So to try and say that this has been a great season or whatever would be a lie.
But it is certainly a step, hell in fact a leap IMO, in the right direction. For the first time since the late 90's I feel that we have a clue about where we are going and how we are going to get there.
Also for the first time in my life I have absolute faith in the management we have to get the job done.
Ok, enough peace and love. I'll make sure my next post is sprinkled with more sacasm and bad tidings.